Tim Treuer

A future for sea otters and kelp forests in the PNW: High Country News had a great, if short, piece about the history and future of sea otter reintroductions in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. As the Regeneration entry on Seaforestration mentions, sea otters can be the lynchpin of kelp forest ecosystems, keeping voracious sea urchins in check enough for the kelp to grow and sequester huge amounts of carbon. Returning sea otters to the 900 miles of their historic range along the West Coast could thus store enormous amounts of carbon, but as the story nicely documents, there's a diversity of perspectives from local communities, including native groups that might need to resort to past hunting practices if the otters threaten critical shellfish populations.

 Amy Boyer

Virtual Power Plants are on the rise internationally: These systems connect household energy resources like solar and batteries to each other and the grid, so they can buffer the system against blackouts. In Puerto Rico, where singer Bad Bunny just called out the private power system for its failures, a VPP connecting the island's increasing numbers of household solar systems is on the verge of approval. In Richmond, California, a VPP is part of a plan to increase affordable housing, electrify it, and stabilize the electrical system. For better or worse, Tesla is heavily involved with VPPs, with one in California, others in Japan and Australia, and one planned for Texas.

 Claire Krummenacher

Widespread support for climate action: As a public opinion researcher, I was particularly intrigued by Grist's reporting on a recent study published in Nature Communications. Contrary to what most Americans believe, the overwhelming majority of the country (66-80%) is in favor of strong climate action policies, including mandating 100% renewable energy within the next two decades, adopting a Green New Deal, and establishing renewable energy projects on public lands. Along with the recently passed Inflation Reduction act, this confirmation that climate policies have widespread backing—including significant support from both self-identified Democrats and Republicans—could be a positive signal that climate change will be an issue of importance to Americans as they prepare to vote in this year's midterms and pressure political leaders to adjust their platforms accordingly.

 Courtney White

Who knows best, nature or humans? A major study found that ants can do a better job at boosting crop yields than pesticides. Ants hunt pests that damage fruits, seeds, and leaves. They do best in diversified regenerative farming systems, especially agroforestry. Some ants can damage food crops, but with careful, nature-based management their impact can be minimized. In sharp contrast, a group of scientists insist that the best way to boost food production is to “improve” plant photosynthesis through genetic modification. Progress has been slow, however, and other researchers have pointed out that photosynthesis has been around for three billion years and if it could be improved then natural selection would have done so by now!

 Juliana Birnbaum

Tracking the slow-motion drama of tree migration:  I am moved by the depth of this multimedia feature on the accelerated shifting of forest ranges worldwide, with visual and written storytelling around forests and the people and animals who depend on them: “The external factors that affect the health, makeup, and movement of forests are as complex as the forests themselves. The phenomenon of tree migration arises from interrelated and overlapping causes, such as changes in climate, past and present land use and management, the proliferation of native pests and plants, the introduction of non-native species, and the built landscape. And because researching tree migration often requires studies that last at least several decades, in most cases we do not yet have enough data to see the picture fully. Attempting to follow the trees—or trying to predict where they will go—currently means a lot of guesswork and few definitive answers.”

 Kavya Gopal

Building honey highways in the Netherlands: It is no secret that across the globe, pollinators have been disappearing due to multiple factors including loss of habitat, pesticide and chemical exposure, and changing climate. So much of the news around pollinators is dire, so I was excited to learn about the Netherlands implementing a comprehensive National Pollinator Strategy since 2018. Of course the world’s second largest exporter of agricultural products is keenly aware of the critical role played by pollinators in agriculture. But with over 120 initiatives taking place in both cities and the rural agricultural regions, its commitment to pollinators is inspiring. Projects include creating “honey highways” to increase pollinator-rich zones, planting nectar-producing plants to create more pollinator “bed and breakfasts”, and organising the annual cross-country bee count. While the National Pollinator Strategy has its limitations in influencing industrial agriculture, it still shows how people at localised levels of agency can rally around regeneration.

 Robert Denney

Action to Protect the Florida Wildlife Corridor Gains Steam. On August 23rd, the Florida Cabinet approved a plan to protect seven parcels of land totaling about 20,000 acres that will be designated as part of the Florida Wildlife Corridor. The parcels, which include a mix of forestland and agricultural properties, will be protected through a combination of direct acquisitions by the state and through conservation easements. This comes on the heals of Florida passing the Florida Wildlife Corridors Act in 2021, which set aside $400 million to develop an ecological network throughout the state that will give species such as the iconic Florida panther room to roam.

Take Action on Nexus

Did you know that by 2020, solar had become the least expensive form of electricity in most of the world?

Commercial solar panels today perform at 20% efficiency, up from 12% a decade ago. In 2006, solar energy cost $3.50 per kilowatt/hour. By 2030, it is expected to drop to as low as 2 cents per kW/hr. Solar is a key to phasing out fossil fuels and can be a primary source of heating and electricity around the world.

This week, learn how we rapidly expand the use of solar energy as the primary source for electricity and heating.

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Photo Credits
1st photo: Suzi Eszterhas via Minden Pictures
2nd photo: Jaime Stilling

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